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Giselle -- Leeds -- 2011

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Northern Ballet opened the final week of their Spring Season with a new production of Giselle. It is a very traditional production beautifully staged by Yoko Ichino.

Pippa Moore and Javier Torres led the first night cast. Pippa was sublime in the eponymous role. She was an easily led young girl with a bad heart. She really believed that “pretend” villager Albrecht loved her and she blossomed in his love. She was truly heart-breaking in her “mad” scene. Javier Torres was every inch the louche young nobleman out for a bit of fun. It was only when it was too late that he realised the tragedy he had caused and he was filled with remorse. Both leads danced beautifully and effortlessly. I found their performances profoundly moving.

Hiro Takahashi was a tour-de-force as Hilarion; he has a very strong stage presence and his dancing was immaculate. Victoria Sibson made Berthe come to life with her very clear mime and vivid acting. I really wouldn’t want to cross the very glacial Myrthe of Georgina May.

Act 1 was full of fun and flirtation. I very much enjoyed the sparkling peasant pas de six and the way the villagers were enjoying the harvest festival and eating the grapes off the vine.

Act 2 was exemplary. The Wilis were ethereal and sinister and danced with a fabulous synchronicity.

This afternoon’s cast was led by Julie Charlet and Tobias Batley and again they were both terrific in their roles. Julie was very flirtatious and brought a quality of mischief to Giselle in act 1 and she was as light as swansdown in act 2.

The orchestra sounded absolutely magnificent.

This production provided an enormous contrast in style to the widely toured Cleopatra and showed off the terrific versatility and talent of the Company. This is the only scheduled week for this production but I really hope that it comes back to the rep very soon. At least I have got 2 more opportunities to see the production on Saturday.

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Do you ever sit in a theatre and get shivers down your spine even before curtain up? It happened to me yesterday afternoon in leeds. Micaela Paolacci made her debut as Giselle with company veteran Hiro Takahashi as her Albrecht. I found their performances deeply moving and was in floods of tears by the end. Micaela was a joy from her first entrance; she was as light as swansdown, shy but entranced by Albrecht. Hiro was obviously fond of her but very conscious of his position. When Giselle realised that Abrecht was not whom he seemed her descent into madness and her death was really shocking and Hiro found an enormous depth of emotion in his guilt and despair.

Micaela was fragile and ethereal in act 2 but showed gutsy determination to save her love from his doom. The Wilis were impeccable and implacable. It was really threatening to see them hopping across stage in arabesque, absolutely in unison and very quiet. Victoria Sibson is always a vivid actress and she was breath-taking as Myrtha.

An afternoon of sheer magic.

Pippa Moore and Javier Torres were the leads in the evening. Even in a couple of performances their already superb interpretations had deepened. It was a stunning performance throughout and a wonderful way to end the Spring tour.

This week has seen some wonderful performances of this glorious production of Giselle.

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